If you read yesterday’s weekly Sunday morning chat, you are going to chuckle at the next few paragraphs (if you aren’t in on my Sunday morning chats, you are missing out on an easy to make your week go better, click here to join us):
After just four days into my 30 day blogging challenge, on day five, I made an executive decision that I was just too tired to blog that day. It was Saturday. I had worked really hard that week, and I deserved it.
But I didn’t want to feel like a failure. I didn’t want to set up a precedent that I could easily talk myself out it. Clearly, I have a history of talking myself out of writing because of some really good reason, being that I’ve had this website since 2011 (or was it 2010?), and I am hovering at 200 posts.
I decided that if I made up for that post later during the 30 day challenge, and if I didn’t allow that trend to skip a day to continue, that I wouldn’t regret my decision to just once, skip writing a post for that day.
And I can truthfully say, in the past 48 hours, I haven’t regretted that executive decision. Not one bit.
Enter today: Labor Day. It was a rainy Monday, a perfect day for writing.
And what did I do?
I played a game. I spent time with loved ones (absolutely no regrets on this). I cleaned up the house. I did some cooking. I did some planning. I glued a book together (stay tuned for Sunday’s post on why this will make your life happy). I did some of my online classes to help be a better blogger and writer.
I did everything but work on writing a blog post.
As the evening wore on, I started thinking…“Gee, maybe I should take today off, too. It IS Labor Day. I work hard. I deserve to rest.”
Just when I was about to cave in and walk away from writing for today, I took a peek at the topic I had planned to write for today: What will keep me from putting too much on myself?
That’s when I knew that I had to write this post. Today. Not tomorrow. Not another day this month. But today.
What helped me to make that decision?
How did I know whether or not I was putting too much pressure on myself?
Let’s go back in time. It’s 1997 and I’m sitting in Dr. Teleki’s class. My hands were rapidly writing down everything she said (her tests were notoriously hard). That day, she was teaching us about how to get children to listen to what we said, and more importantly, how to do it without either of you having a meltdown.
“You tell them firmly, but with kindness. The firmness shows respect for you, and the kindness shows respect for them.”
That phrase is etched in my mind, and I apply it over and over to so many situations:
“firm but kind”
In addition to working well on children, and in the workplace, and with your spouse, this concept also works well with yourself: be firm, but kind.
But to know exactly whether or not you’re being too firm or too kind, you have to get clear on what’s your most important value and/or goal in that moment.
For instance, if I’m sick, and I’m trying to write every day, I may decide that today, my health is the most important thing to me. So in order to be firm, but kind, I might decide to write another day.
If things have been hard in my relationship, and I have one hour that I can either spend with him or I can spend writing, then my highest value in that moment is nourishing my relationship. That’s my most important value there.
If I’m just procrastinating, and yet I really do want to be able to say that I’ve written for 30 days in a row on my website, then even if I’m sleepy, or I would really like to go read and relax, the best way for me to show respect for myself, is to honor my goal to write daily for the month of September.
But if I expect myself to take care of my health and to rest, and to spend time with him, and to stay true to my goal, then I’m putting too much pressure on myself.
It’s just not possible.
So, ask yourself:
- What is my highest value or goal in this situation? What’s more important today? (Your answer could be different tomorrow, and that’s OK.)
- How am I showing respect to myself? How am I being firm? How am I being kind?
- Is what I’m expecting myself to do even possible? Will I have to be a superhuman in order to even achieve what I’m putting pressure on myself to do?
The next time you find yourself feeling stuck, and you feel like you’re about to explode from the pressure, take a moment to go through these three questions to help you figure out whether or not the pressure is actually focusing on something that is important to you. Then you’ll know if you’re focusing on the wrong things, or you’re just worked up over nothing.